Tongue piercing is one of the most popular body piercings in the world, as well as one of the most popular body modifications in general.
It is a common piercing with both men and women.
Some sources indicate that it’s currently the fourth most popular piercing in the world.
Piercing and Placement
Tongue piercing is very old in origin. It has a history in Meso-America and East Asia. For example, it was popular with Maya and Aztec cultures, typically through religious and performance practices.
On the West, however, tongue piercing is a relatively new thing, gaining popularity only in the late 20th century, during the 1980s. This is where we observe a rise in popularity of all body modifications and tongue piercing became one of the most popular piercings. The popularity is largely thanks to the first professional body piercing studio in the US, Gauntlet.
The most common placement for a tongue piercing is one hole through the center of the tongue. This is what is considered a “standard” placement, though other variations are also possible.
Tongue piercings are usually done at 14g or 12g, depending on the piercer. Before getting your piercing done, consult your piercer to see which gauge works the best for you. Also, your piercer will help you decide on the most optimal placement.
There are many blood vessels in the tongue so it’s important to hire an experienced piercer to perform the procedure. A knowledgeable piercer will know how to identify the large blood vessels and find the safest place to pierce.
The piercing itself is performed with a piercing needle or a cannula needle after the tongue is clamped. Typically, the piercing is done from bottom to top. While this type of piercing may seem very painful, it’s actually one of the least painful body piercings in the world. Therefore, the discomfort during the procedure should not be significant. That being said, tongues are known to swell after the piercing is done, so you should expect that. However, if the swelling persists you need to contact your doctor.
The most common jewelry for tongue piercings are straight barbells. It is vital to choose the barbell that matches the piercing perfectly. Tongue is a sensitive body part so it’s important to ensure a perfect fit. Luckily, this is not difficult: all you need to know is the exact gauge you’re pierced with (or your current gauge, in the case of stretched piercings).
While you may sometimes hear people referring to tongue jewelry as “tongue rings”, rings are rarely used for this type of piercing. That being said, there is nothing preventing you to have a ring in your tongue piercing. There are some people who prefer rings over straight barbells, though they are recommended only for fully healed tongue piercings.
When choosing jewelry, it’s important to ensure perfect comfort. The tongue moves a lot so jewelry has to sit nicely and shouldn’t prevent any movement.
Additional Info and Tips
- It’s interesting to note that tongue piercing was once considered unusual and even extreme, but this is no longer true. Since this is such a popular piercing there are people from all areas of life and all demographics enjoying this piercing.
- Tongue piercing has somewhat declined in popularity in the past several years, but it’s still considered a very popular piercing.
- Tongue piercings tend to heal fast. They can heal in about 3 to 4 weeks. This is one of the fastest healing times for any piercing.
- Since the tongue heals fast it also means that the hole can close quickly. This is why it’s not recommended to remove your tongue jewelry.
- Initial jewelry for tongue piercing is always made to be significantly longer, to accommodate the swelling. Once the swelling is gone you can go to your piercer to switch jewelry to the right size. It’s vital that the jewelry change is made by your piercer and not by yourself.
- To reduce the swelling after procedure, drink cold beverages and suck on crushed ice. Avoid alcohol and spicy food.
- Tongue piercing can easily be stretched to a larger gauge. Gauges larger than 14g will reduce the chance of migration and rejection, so there are many people stretching their tongue piercings to 10g or even 8g.
- There are other popular placements apart from standard. Some people choose to have their piercing done to the side of the tongue instead of center. Multiple piercings are also popular. One of the most popular multiple tongue piercings are the so-called “venom bites”: two piercings placed side by side on the tongue. Also, the tongue itself is not the only part that is pierced. For example, some people have tongue web piercings.